Beware, Students:

Evidence of what happened to the last student who was disrespectful:
character map outline

Okay, so not really. It’s really one of the beginning steps of my students’ character analysis group projects. I call this one “Anatomy of a Character.” In groups of 4-5, students choose a character from one of the stories we’ve read to analyze. Using the guidelines I provide to them, they assign roles and responsibilities. Stupid titles like “Clutter Captain” and “Tech Specialist” serve the not-stupid purpose of making sure that each group member has a specific job. It helps me know who I need to fuss at and why when I notice that some groups are off-task.

First, they spend a couple of days completing their graphic organizers, in which they determine the actions and motives, personality traits, and emotions of their chosen character. They also need to explain what direct and indirect characterization are, find examples of each in the story, and determine whether their character is round or flat and dynamic or static. Each individual is responsible for a different part of the organizer, and collectively they need to review each section and reach consensus on what the best possible answers are. When the members are in agreement, the individuals then take their section of the organizer and develop the information into a well-developed paragraph.

The next phase is creation of the body map. The students use big sheets of bulletin board paper to trace an outline of one of their group members. Using various art supplies, they then create likenesses of their chosen character based on the physical descriptions given in the story. In this phase, the person who is the “Tech Specialist” is in charge of typing the paragraphs they wrote in part one. The paragraphs and labels are printed out and are glued to specific parts of the character on the map.

The end results look something like this one that was completed today:

The  kids usually have a good time doing this project. It’s a good warm-up for the next project, which involves blood, guts, and dismemberment.

What was your favorite project from your school days?

7 Comments

  1. Kristin on October 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Can I come be a student in one of your classes? What a totally kick ass idea!



  2. Alice on October 13, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    wish my kids had you for thier teacher miss moxie.



  3. shelli on October 13, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Totally loved the shoebox art project. I once staged the revolutionary war in one shoebox. Don’t laugh. I hear my son has a shoebox project coming up and I am totally stoked.



  4. julie gardner on October 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    So great.

    And I’d be an excellent clutter captain.

    (I wish you had been my teacher.)



  5. a on October 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    I don’t remember doing any cool projects in school. I wish you’d been my teacher too!



  6. leanne on October 14, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Awesome! And I’ll echo the others… wish you had taught me, but since I’m OLD, maybe you can teach my kids?

    As for favorite project from school… it took me a few minutes to think of something (and I can’t remember all the details, but more of a bare outline — I’m OLD), but when I was in junior high, I remember working with some friends on making a short movie for an English class. We shot the movie in the school library (rearranging some couches and chairs to make it look like a living room). The plot involved something about winning a lottery (I think?). I have no idea how the movie related to the class anymore, but I loved that the teacher let us run with our idea, and I loved getting a chance to pretend I had some acting skillz.



  7. Balancing Act on October 14, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Sigh – I miss all of this.